The BBC has made the rather bizarre move of dodging criticism of its Brexit coverage by refusing to speak to the BBC.
The corporation has been chastised by a group of 72 MPs who have accused its EU exit coverage of being ‘pessimistic’ and ‘skewed’.
Naturally, the issue was one of the talking points on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on Tuesday morning.
However, when the BBC programme asked the BBC to put forward a BBC spokesperson to talk about the BBC’s Brexit coverage, the BBC turned them down.
When introducing the segment on the Brexit coverage at about 7.40am on Tuesday, Today presenter Sarah Montague was forced into making a rather strange announcement.
‘We did ask somebody from the BBC to come forward on the programme and be interviewed,’ she said. ’They didn’t want to put anybody forward.’
Instead, she talked with the BBC’s media editor, Amol Rajan, about the criticism from MPs.
They wrote a letter to BBC director-general Lord Hall saying the corporation is ‘unfairly representing’ Leave voters by focusing on people who regret their decision.
They said the BBC’s future will be in doubt if it is no longer seen as an ‘impartial broker’.
It has been signed by 60 Conservative MPs, three Labour MPs, eight DUP MPs and one Ukip MP.
Signatories include Tories Iain Duncan Smith and Owen Paterson.
The letter reads: ‘It particularly pains us to see how so much of the economic good news we’ve had since June has been skewed by BBC coverage which seems unable to break out of pre-referendum pessimism and accept new facts.
‘Some of the signatories of this letter shared many of the concerns about the economic impact of Brexit, but all are delighted to find forecasts of immediate economic harm were at best misplaced.
‘So-called “despite Brexit” reporting may be expected of a partisan press, but licence fee payers have the right to expect better.
‘BBC bias can have a substantial effect on national debate. We fear that, by misrepresenting our country either as xenophobic or regretful of the Leave vote, the BBC will undermine our efforts to carve out a new, global role for this country.’
But fellow Today presenter Nick Robinson had a message for MPs disgruntled by the BBC’s coverage of Brexit.
He tweeted: ‘Do not adjust your set. Normal service from the BBC means you will hear people you disagree with say things you don’t like. (That’s our job)’.
Do not adjust your set. Normal service from the BBC means you will hear people you disagree with say things you don't like. (That's our job) pic.twitter.com/UyOzeEp3eV
— Nick Robinson (@bbcnickrobinson) March 21, 2017
Although it didn’t manage to put forward a spokesperson for one of its own shows, the BBC did publish a statement.
A BBC spokesman said: ‘While we are always live to our critics and understand that passions are running high on all sides of the debate, it is the job of the BBC to scrutinise and analyse the issues on behalf of the public and to hold politicians to account across the political spectrum.
‘That is what the BBC has been doing. It is what the BBC will continue to do. It is precisely because of this, that the public trusts the BBC.’